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poetrymfa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Robin McKinley's Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast focuses on the Huston family. Roderick Huston is a merchant who has three daughters named Grace, Hope, and Honour. Honour (the story's protagonist) wishes that she could have been named "Beauty" instead, not understanding the meaning of "honour." Thus, a nickname is born, one which Beauty outgrows as she gets older and discovers that she is not transforming into a lovely, refined young woman like her sisters. 

After Roderick steals a rose from the gardens of a mysterious castle, a Beast appears and demands that a price must be paid for this act of thievery. To protect her father, Beauty goes to live in the castle with the Beast (the secondary protagonist). While he is gruesome to behold, the Beast is ultimately not such a bad fellow, and Beauty learns to enjoy his company and, eventually, to love him. 

It is this love that shatters the enchantment placed over the castle and which restores the Beast to his human shape. Beauty herself transforms in terms of both personal and physical growth; when her reflection is revealed to her at the end of the novel, she had, indeed, grown to be beautiful. 

slchanmo1885 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The main characters are, of course, Beauty and Beast. Beauty was named Honour at birth, and gained Beauty as a nickname when she didn't understand what the name Honour meant as a child. The daughters in Beauty's family were all named after virtues: Honour (Beauty), Hope, and Grace. Beauty always felt the nickname Beauty was ironic, as she believes her sisters to be much more beautiful than her. The Beast, on the other hand, refers to himself as such because he believes he is ugly in the form of a beast. However, his name proves to be deceiving, as his personality is not beastly at all. Other characters include Beauty's father, a kind and loving father, and Ger and Robbie, Beauty's sister's love interests. Greatheart, Beauty's horse, also plays a prominent role in the book.